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Waste Reduction Toolkit

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction means decreasing the amount of materials needed in the first place so that volumes of garbage and recyclable materials are reduced.

The resources below will help your school set up waste reduction and reuse practices.

School wide – reduce waste at the end of the school year

  • Organize and hold a Zero Waste locker or cubby clean out, and then a School Swap Day (PDF, 23 K) to facilitate reuse and recycling at the end of the school year.

Lunchroom, kitchen and break room

  • Encourage students and staff to bring lunches in durable containers. See waste free lunches (external) for tips on waste free lunches.
  • If your school uses disposable polystyrene lunch trays (PDF, 48 K), consider using durable or compostable lunch trays.
  • Donate unopened, packaged foods and drinks and uneaten whole fruits from the school lunch program. The national Good Samaritan Food Donation Act encourages the donation of food to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals. See "Food Donation Guidelines" (PDF, 47 K) and “Food Donations with Food Lifeline and Northwest Harvest(PDF, 32 K) which includes contact information for these organizations.  Read the success story (PDF, 31 K) about how five school districts donated edible food with the help of King County's Green Schools program.


Landscaping and grounds

  • Compost leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste.
  • Leave grass clippings in place to provide nutrients to the lawn.

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Updated: Jun. 1, 2017

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